We’ve become accustomed and in some cases addicted to the quick answer, icon-clicking mania all around us. It’s only when things go wrong or break down that we realize a huge dose of patience and interest in the person with the problem will win and retain customers. The more technology you work with, the better your relationship and communication skills need to be. I find it fascinating that someone can be an expert on a software program but completely alienate a customer with an “it’s obvious” attitude.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. “Why did you take so long with that customer on the help line?” “You only get 15 minutes per patient, quit talking so much and get the read on your instruments and move on!” Wow, how come we can’t see that this push for hitting the mark on time is taking us in the wrong direction?


Slow Down In Order To Speed Up!

I have discovered something. If I give my full attention and focus to relating and communicating for a shorter period of time with the intention of connecting, problem-solving, or learning, I get more out of each day. I have had to slow down in order to speed up!

Just like you, I can tell when I am not getting someone’s full attention. The quality of the communication is low as their eyes dart to see who just walked in or to glance at what’s happening at the next table. If we are on the phone, I can hear the click, clack of the keyboard or on Skype I can see them glancing at another screen. I used to be guilty of all these relationship-eroding practices but one day that all changed.

Are YOU Listening?

I was getting assistance on a help-line with an on-line banking process that was not working. I was startled to hear “I don’t understand why I am being spoken to this way, I’m am attempting to answer your questions and solve the problem. Please let me help you.” That pulled me up short and I apologized. I was taking my frustration out on the help desk employee with a tone and impatience that was my problem, not his. “I understand he said, it is frustrating and I am giving you my full attention and will take as long as I need to take until your problem is solved. We appreciate your business and want you to be satisfied.”

He wasn’t reading that, he meant it. I could tell. And, to tell the truth, up to that point I wasn’t giving him my full attention. I was trying to get a problem solved during business hours and was looking at other things on my desk. I had to answer questions more than once because I wasn’t providing full focused answers. To stop and give my full attention and experience really excellent customer service (after being invited to in a very professional way) I came to understand my role in relating and communicating. Stop what you are doing when there is a person on the other end of the line or in front of you, and be present with full attention and see how quickly you can connect and take care of transactions with a completely different, and much higher level of quality.

A Relationship Mindset

Start with these four tenets in your mindset:

1)    Moving fast is not the same as getting somewhere.

2)    Activity is not results.

3)    Full focus and attention is second to nothing in creating and sustaining a customer for life.

4)    I am totally personally accountable for the quality of the relationships I experience.

There is something to be said for having the sleekest, best, most advanced technology but if it is combined with slick, fast-talking, volume driven people to sell and support it, don’t expect your administrative and maintenance costs to come down. Customer service feedback will probably reflect the need for customer service training to teach people “to care” (a fool’s errand) when what is really needed is everyone to slow down and practice the rarest of qualities that makes the biggest impact, the ability to relate to each other as human beings not human doings.

It’s an exciting time to be in the working world in just about any industry.
Technology is becoming a great equalizer with relationship and communication skills the great differentiator. It’s a quality that is often “off the radar” and very difficult to compete with when an organization’s leadership commits to ensuring it is the culture, starting with themselves.

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  1. Hi Linda:
    Thanks for your honest accounting of your story about giving your full attention to others. Since I coach people virtually via Skype this can sometimes be a problem as phones and doorbells ring, alarms go off, dogs demand attention etc. So, it is essential, to do everything we can to put aside the time needed, plan ahead as to what we’d like to get out of each conversation, and even think about how we can modify our work environment to minimize distractions. And, as you say, make sure that we give our full focus and attention to others; simply act as you would want them to treat you. Thanks again, I appreciate you taking the time to write this most helpful article.

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